quotations

On love and fear

This gives rise to an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the opposite. The answer is that one would like to be both, but since it is difficult to combine the two it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to make way. For generally speaking, one can say the following about men: they are ungrateful, inconsistent, feigners and dissimulators, avoiders of danger, eager for gain, and whilst it profits them they are all yours. They will offer you their blood, their property, their life and their offspring when your need for them is remote. But when your needs are pressing, they turn away. The prince who depends entirely on their words perishes when he finds he has not taken any other precautions. This is because friendships purchased with money and not by greatness and nobility of spirit are paid for, but not collected, and when you need them they cannot be used. Men are less worried about harming somebody who makes himself loved than someone who makes himself feared, for love is held by a chain of obligation which, since men are bad, is broken at every opportunity for personal gain. Fear, on the other hand, is maintained by a dread of punishment which will never desert you.

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli (translation Stephen J. Milner)